The Geeks OUT Podcast: Interview w/ Vincent Rodriguez III from Netflix’s “Arlo the Alligator Boy”

From Netflix’s “Arlo the Alligator Boy”

Join host of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin Gilligan, as he chats with the wonderful Vincent Rodriguez III, who was a special guest of Flame Con, played Josh Chan on The CW series “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and currently can be heard in the voice cast of Netflix’s recently released animated movie “Arlo the Alligator Boy” and it’s companion series “I ❤️ Arlo” coming soon to Netflix. We discuss some of the queer themes in the movie, spoilers about Vincent’s character, and what we could expect from the future series.

Interview with Tripping Over You Creators Suzana and Owen

Suzana and Owen are a married lesbian couple who love world-building, character-making, and story-telling together. Tripping Over You is their current ongoing webcomic, and their attempt to fold all of those shared interests and passions together. I had the opportunity to talk to them, which you can read below.

Where did the inspiration for Tripping Over You (TOY) and what has made it stick with you for this long? Where did the inspiration for Milo and Liam as characters come from?

Suzana and I have been making original characters to bounce off of each other since we were kids, long before we started dating. We’ve always been interested in writing together, pitching each other ideas for how so-and-so’s relationship would go, making little gift arts for each other of each others’ character— it just sort of snowballed into webcomic-shape after we started dating and moved in together. We keep making pages because (we’re addicted) it continues to be really satisfying to finish just one more page; it feels like giving our characters a couple more seconds of existence with every update.

Both of you are collaborators on this comic as well as wives. How would you say the romantic partnership has reflected/ affected on the artistic partnership and vice versa?

We started dating a couple years after we made Milo and Liam, and then (on a whim) started making a webcomic shortly after we started dating. It’s really hard for me to imagine what our life would look like without the comic being part of it. It’s true that a lot of how our characters relate to each other has flickers of what our actual relationship once felt like, but I think the real takeaway for us goes the opposite direction: making stuff together has improved our ability to communicate with each other. 

We’ve basically crafted this perfect excuse to practice expressing to each other what each of our individual goals are, and then to try to figure out how to accomplish as many of those goals as possible without taking away from the other person’s goals. That’s given us a really solid framework to build on when it comes to talking to each other about what we both want out of our personal life together, too.

TOY has been running on a digital platform since 2011. How do you find yourself drawn to web comics and What do you think are some of the benefits of this medium?

Webcomics were some of the first things we ever found as we were first stumbling around the internet as kids back in 2000. Suzana and I used to send each other links to new comics we’d find, or yell at each other to go catch up on an old favorite after they’d posted a particularly exciting update. It’s just so compelling to follow something that’s so indie-made, where the story and art is directly handed off from creator to reader. You get to watch the art and the story improve over time— and you get to see what kinds of stories people make when they’re being really self-indulgent. It’s all really authentic and sincere and fun. 

One of the loveliest things about TOY in my opinion is the progression of the main characters’ relationship, seeing how they evolve in their relationship with the world and each other. How did you keep the balance between maturity and light-heartedness when creating this queer narrative?

This means a lot to me, specifically because I feel like I really struggle with this. I’m not sure I always keep this balance in a way that’s masterful, despite it being one of my biggest goals to improve at it as much as I can. I’m one of those people who will enthusiastically explain my joke if no one laughs— even to a chorus of groans and eye-rolling. It’s definitely a forever thing, developing more mindful ways to think about this particular puzzle. I do find that it’s really helpful to read pages out loud to myself, to see if it sounds like what I intended for it to sound like. Getting feedback on what lands (and what doesn’t) is really helpful, too – which is cool, because that’s sort of naturally built into the webcomic format.

Nearing the end of TOY, what sort of stories do you think you might be working on in the future?

We have a sequel to TOY lined up to start at the end of the chapter we’re working on now (with a fun little time skip between them), which we are deliriously excited about lately. We’re also working on launching an adult queer comic with Slipshine this year. We also have some fun (very silly, very meta) plans for some of Liam’s stories once we get into exploring his career in writing.

What advice might you offer for hopeful creatives out there?

Something I remind myself daily, especially when I find myself hitting a wall: you may not feel like you’re good enough yet to work on that dream project you’ve been chewing on, but I promise that’s not a bad thing. You’re allowed (and entitled!) to make whatever you want, even before you become as good at it as you’d like to be. Plus: there’s always going to be someone out there who your stuff means a lot to. As long as you make something you care very much about, some people will sense how much you care, and they’ll care too. Please, please make stuff. I personally want to read more things like that! 

Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/comics would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

Here’s some of our absolute favorites! Some are completed, some are ongoing, and some have adult content:

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal

Go Get A Roomie

Always Raining Here

Boys Love Boys’ Love

Sea Legs

The Quick and Dirty Life of Fritz Fargo

Lies Within


Adagio Comic

Cans of Beans

O Human Star


Interview With Musician And Author Adrienne Tooley

Adrienne Tooley grew up in Southern California, majored in musical theater in Pittsburgh, and now lives in Brooklyn with her wife, six guitars, and a banjo. In addition to writing novels, she is a singer/songwriter who has currently released three indie-folk EPs. Sweet & Bitter Magic is her debut novel. I had the opportunity to interview Adrienne, which you can read below.

First of all, congrats on your new book! Where did the inspiration for Sweet & Bitter Magic come from?

Thank you!! It definitely started with a few big concepts. At the heart of it, SWEET & BITTER MAGIC is a book about grief, love, and  power. These concepts are explored through the eyes of two very different girls. With a dual POV I got to see the world through the eyes of Wren, a girl who feels everything, and Tamsin, who feels nothing (though not by her own volition). 

I also wanted to explore the idea of strength and power and how that affects the world and the individual. When being told that strength is good, and weakness is bad, how does that affect the ways a person can grow? How does that affect their relationships? How does that affect their own perceived value? And then, on the flip side, how does a person deal with the consequences of that power? In SWEET & BITTER MAGIC I got to attack those concepts head-on. 

How did you find yourself drawn to storytelling and the YA genre specifically? And what was it about fantasy that drew your attention?

The books I read when I was a teenager are the books that have stuck with me, even to this day. There’s so much room for exploration in YA. When you’re a teenager, that’s the first time that you’re really finding your place in the world, and those are the stories that really call to me as a writer. Fantasy also offers the ability to build a world on top of a story. Especially as a queer writer there is a freedom in fantasy and building a world for your characters to inhabit that is different than the world we live in.

In an essay you wrote for YA Pride, “Finding My Queer Self Through Books,” you had discussed a little bit of your publishing journey, including telling potential agents, “All of my books will be queer. In every age-category or genre I choose to write. This is important to me and I want to make sure it’s important to you, too.” With publishing, I feel like there’s sometimes this hesitancy for new writers to advocate for themselves, especially those from more marginalized communities, i.e. the LGBT community. What made you decide to say this?

I definitely recognize the privilege in being able to advocate for myself in that way. Not every publishing gatekeeper will respond positively to something like that, but I was fortunate enough to find an agent who prioritizes queer stories, who didn’t even blink when I made that request. In no way do I think writers should need to out themselves in order to write queer stories, but for me personally, I live the rest of my life out and wanted to make sure that my writing career was in the hands of someone who understood and respected that. 

Besides queer witches, are there any other mythological or magical elements are you are hoping to explore in future stories?

I’m hoping to delve deeper into different types of magic and magical systems in future books. I’m also fascinated by cults and hope to explore something like that in one of my future stories. One of the best parts of world-building is getting to create brand new lore and legends and religious figures and deities, and in that sense, the possibilities are endless! 

As an out author, what would you say to your young queer self? What message do you hope to give to young queer readers and writers out there?

You matter. Your heart matters. Your love matters. Your words matter. So keep supporting and seeking out and writing those books that make you feel seen, because there are so many stories to tell, and there is room for your voice. 

What advice would you give for aspiring authors who are navigating writing and publishing?

Be diligent, be patient, and always be looking for ways to level up your craft. Read widely and often! Since so much about what happens to a book after you write it comes down to luck and timing, it’s important to focus on what you can control: ie your characters, the heart of your writing, constructing an intriguing voice, and studying and improving your craft.

Are there any other projects or story ideas you are currently nursing and could tell us about?

Yes! My second book, SOFI & THE BONE SONG is a standalone fantasy about a young musician whose future falls apart when another girl wins the title she’s been training her whole life for. It’s got magic, music, taverns, an endless winter, and an exploration and dismantling of the idea that people should suffer for their art. Also, it’s sapphic!! Currently, it’s slated for a Spring 2022 release. 

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ stories you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

There are some INCREDIBLE LGBTQ+ books coming out this year! This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron, Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson, She Drives Me Crazy  by Kelly Quindlen, These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy, The Unpopular Vote by Jasper Sanchez, & The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould are just a few that immediately come to mind!!

The Geeks OUT Podcast: O Captain! My Captain!

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

In this week’s episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Teri Yoshiuchi, as they discuss the final episode of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, get excited for the new trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and are cautiously optimistic at the news that Pixar is casting a young trans girl for an upcoming project in This Week in Queer.



KEVIN:  Ed Brubaker earns more for his cameo in Winter Soldier than for creating the character
TERI: Levar Burton to be among final guest hosts on Jeopardy



KEVIN: Mortal Kombat, Home, Way of X
TERI: Falcon & Winter Soldier, Invincible, World of Warcraft Classic/The Burning Crusade



Both Emilia Clarke and Olivia Colman in talks to join Secret Invasion



There is an open-casting call for Pixar’s first trans character



New teaser trailer for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings




• Marvel announces Captain America 4
• Sony signs a new deal with Disney to inherit movies after Netflix
• New trailer for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
• New trailer for Werewolves Within



• Adult Swim announces a Robot Chicken Archie Comics Special
• New trailer for Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.
• Hulu orders sequel series to How I Met Your Mother
• New teaser for season 2 of Ted Lasso
• New trailer for Adventure Time: Distant Lands – Together Again
• John Cameron Mitchell to star in NBC’s Joe Exotic
• New trailer for season 2 of Love Death + Robots



• DC Comics launching a horror imprint starting with The Conjuring: The Lover
• Marvel is synergizing with ESPN for a Marvel-themed NBA game



• KEVIN: Captain America
• TERI: Lil Nas X 

Interview with Author Aiden Thomas

Aiden Thomas, author of Cemetery Boys, received their MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Born in Oakland, California, Aiden often haunted Mountain View Cemetery like a second home during their misspent youth. As a queer, trans Latinx, Aiden advocates strongly for diverse representation in all media. Aiden is notorious among their friends for always being surprised by twist endings to books/movies and organizing their bookshelves by color. When not writing, Aiden enjoys exploring the outdoors with their dog, Ronan. Their cat, Figaro, prefers to support their indoor hobbies, like reading and drinking too much coffee. I had the opportunity to interview them which you can read below.

How would you describe yourself to someone you’ve never met? What are the first things you would want someone to know about you?

Hello! I’m Aiden Thomas and I am the New York Times bestselling author of “Cemetery Boys” and soon to be “Lost in the Never Woods”! I’m a queer, trans, Latinx author and, unfortunately, I’m also a Disney Adult. I was born and raised in Oakland, CA but moved up to Portland, OR about 4 years ago. I love anime, I’m afraid of wolves, and I’m a night owl which is when I get most of my writing done!

Your debut book, Cemetery Boys, seems to have a unique origin, stemming from a Tumblr writing prompt. Could you tell us more about that?

That’s true! “Cemetery Boys” was inspired by a writing prompt I saw on Tumblr — I follow a bunch of writing prompt blogs and one day as I was mindless scrolling, I saw one that said, “What would you do if you summoned a ghost and you couldn’t get rid of it?” A lot of folks replied with scary story ideas with lots of Paranormal Activity type events, but my brain went, “Yes, and what if he was cute?” From there, I knew if I was going to have a Latinx main character and ghosts were involved, I wanted the book to revolve around my favorite holiday, Dia de Muertos.

As the first trans author to have a trans-centered fiction book on New York Times Best Seller list, how do you feel about the legacy of that impact? And what do you want to see for the future of trans narratives?

Honestly, it was completely wild and unexpected. I don’t think me or my publishing team thought “Cemetery Boys” would take off the way it did! I didn’t even know that a trans-centered fiction book had never hit list until like a month beforehand, and when “Cemetery Boys” did, it was incredible but also disappointing that it had taken this long. Honestly, I don’t really think of it as me “paving the way” because these stories have been written for a really long time. I like to think of it more as me shoving my shoulder into the publishing door and sneaking as many other trans and BIPOC authors as I can with me.

In your bio it is stated that you are a graduate of the MFA Creative Writing Program from Mills College. Could you tell us about some of your grad school experiences for those out there considering a supplementary education?

Grad school was really difficult! It was a great way to produce writing. I wrote five short stories that were published in literary journals during my grad school studies, which was fantastic. However, I’m also a firm believer that you don’t need to go to college or grad school to be a good writer! There’s so many free or cheap resources to help you learn craft that you don’t need to drop thousands of dollars on. One of my favorite resources is Jessica Brody’s “Save the Cat Writes a Novel” series! She has some courses that I take every time I start a new project and it’s honestly been life changing! 

Speaking of MFA programs, your second upcoming book, Lost in the Never Woods, was your thesis project, correct? What drew you to the story of Peter Pan, aside from the fact that the book copyright expires very soon? Are there any other fairy tales or myths you might be interested in exploring in the future?

That’s true! Honestly, the inspiration for “Lost in the Never Woods” was definitely the slow and creeping kind! I loved the Disney film as a kid (I’ve recently learned kinship with Peter is a very common experience among trans masculine folks!) and had the BIGGEST crush on Jeremy Sumpter in the 2003 adaptation. There’s also some incredible lines in that movie, but the one that really stuck out to me was when Peter says, “I want always to be a boy, and have fun.” And Wendy replies, “You say so, but I think it is your biggest pretend.”

That concept that Peter was trapped in Neverland, that he had some sort of duty to the Lost Boys when he was clearly so drawn to Wendy, stuck in brain. I wanted to know why he was in Neverland, what it meant for him to be afraid of his feelings, and what this concept of growing up really meant to him. I read the original “Peter Pan” quickly after that and learned how really dark the canon is how, and how deeply troubled and traumatized Peter was. I was really interested in his mental and emotional turmoil, which led me to wondering, “What happened to Wendy after Neverland?” and that was the real beginning of “Lost in the Never Woods”.

There are TONS of stories I’d love to do retellings of! There are some Greek myths I’d love to put a contemporary twist on, like Hercules and Icarus. I also love fairytale retellings and have been toying with a “Beauty and the Beast” retelling in my head

Besides the Day of the Dead festival, what other holidays do you think the characters of Cemetery Boys would gravitate towards and in what ways would they celebrate?

Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve, is a HUGE holiday in my family! There’s always huge parties that go late into the night so kids can open presents at midnight, and just SO much food! It’s my second favorite holiday after Dia de Muertos. Both Yadriel and Julian’s families would definitely celebrate and go all out. I think they’d start the night with Yadriel’s family at the cemetery to do all the official pomp and circumstance but close out the night at Julian’s apartment. Yadriel and Maritza would be crowded into the tiny living room with Julian, Rio, Flaca, Rocky, Omar and Luca opening presents and eating lots of Rio’s famous chocolate box cake.

As a writer, what advice would you give to other writers who are stepping into their own creativity? And advice to those interested in representing their own backgrounds/cultures?

FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT! I feel like writers always ask for advice when it comes to improving their story, but you have to get that rough draft down before you can make it better. The hardest part is finishing that manuscript, and you can query or get published until you have a completed draft to work on! When it comes to representation, I think creating stories and writing about your lived experiences is really powerful, especially when you’re marginalized. There’s young adults out there who haven’t seen themselves in a book, and you can make that happen.

One of the lovely things about your book is multilingual inclusion of different languages? Can you talk about how you incorporate them, and is the significance of this inclusion to you?

There’s a real push and pull when you have multiple marginalized identities. Being trans and part of the Latinx community can be very complicated for a lot of different reasons, a large one being that the Spanish language is gendered. Because of that, there’s much more instances of being mis-gendered within the Spanish language as opposed to English. The family and cultural dynamics can also be incredibly complicated. For “Cemetery Boys” it was important to me to show that and to also use Spanish casually and without translations, as it should be.

As a self-proclaimed geek, are there any anime/manga/cartoons you are drawn to at the moment?

Oh my gosh, I’m fully obsessed with “Haikyuu!” and “Given”! I haven’t been able to watch much since I’m on deadline right now, but as soon as I get a break, I’m really looking forward to binge watching “My Hero Academia”.

Are there any other projects or story ideas you are currently nursing and could tell us about?

I’m currently working on the next book in my upcoming duology that’s due April 1st! It’s a young adult fantasy series that’s Percy Jackson meets “The Hunger Games”. I came up with a Latinx-inspired pantheon (like a goddess of Pan Dulce and a music god named Mariachi) and creation myth which was a lot of fun. It’s about demigods in a life-or-death competition and I am SO excited to share more about the story when I can.

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ stories you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

She’s too Pretty to Burn” by Wendy Heard is coming out in March 2021, which is a YA thriller I absolutely fell in love with. Also be on the lookout for “Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun” by Jonny Garza Villa (my new ultimate favorite queer romance!) and “Meet Cute Diary” by Emery Lee (if you like romance tropes, you’re going to LOVE this book!).

Interview with Kat Leyh

Kat Leyh is a Chicago-based writer and artist. She’s best known as the current co-writer and cover artist for the Eisner and GLAAD Award–winning series Lumberjanes, and for her critically acclaimed YA graphic novel Snapdragon. She’s also worked as a cover artist, back-up writer, and artist for several BOOM! Studios series. I had the chance to interview Kat which you can read below.

How did you come to find yourself working in comics? What attracted you to the medium in the first place?

I got into comics in sort of a roundabout way because I didn’t even read them until high school. I went to college for illustration because I loved to draw and tell stories. I was also interested in animation and storyboarding, but what got me into drawing comics was the fact that I could tell a complete story on my own. 

I started making my own short comics and found that I loved the medium. I got my first paid gigs after posting my comics online.

What were some of the stories you loved as a kid? What kind of stories are you drawn to now?

I was a voracious reader as a kid. I loved stories with supernatural elements and I still do. I remember being really shook by His Dark Materials. I read everything by Lois Duncan (usually stories about girls with ESP and murder) .

My favorite author since high school til now has been Sir Terry Pratchett. And I’m always a sucker for the found family trope. 

In your comics you’ve covered superheroes, taxidermist witches, and drunken mermaids. Where do you get your inspiration from?

It’s easy to write about my own interests! I start with that and go from there.

Growing up a fan of action movies and other traditionally misogynist, heteronormative genres left me with an ache to write to fill the void of stories I wish existed.

Much of your work seems to consist of LGBTQ+ media generated for younger audiences. Can you tell us about your motivation for creating queer content for kids and the relevance of it today?

This is a question that I love to dig into.

I think many writers who come from marginalized spaces like to write the stories they wish they had when they were kids. I certainly do. Even now, so many people equate queer stories with sex, because they don’t understand queer adults were once queer kids. 

Queer folk are also a unique group in that they don’t get taught their history and culture as they grow, because we’re usually not born into queer families. Many of us find our queer community as adults. Acknowledging that queer youth have unique experiences much less that they EXIST is essential to healthier and happier future generations.

What messages do you want to give to your readers through your stories? What stories or messages do you wish you had gotten from books when you were a young reader yourself?

Question things.

In your newest book, Thirsty Mermaids, you feature a number of references to mermaid centered pop culture including The Thirteenth Year, Splash, and so forth. What are some of your personal merfolk inspired fiction/narratives?

Who didn’t love Little Mermaid? Some of Glen Keane’s best animation.

I am not especially into mermaids, but they are so familiar a concept that I really wanted to do my own version. The kind of merfolk that I would like to exist. 

As a writer and an artist, what advice would you give to creatives who are tackling one or both skills professionally?

I suppose…take inspiration from everywhere. Not just comics. 

If you’re just starting out, try completing shorter stories and go from there. 

Are there any other projects or story ideas you are currently nursing and would be at liberty to say?

Mmmm… I’m currently thinking a lot about werewolves and bicycles. 

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ books or authors you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

I love a lot of the books being published by First Second right now. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’connell are a couple of my faves — and all those creators’ other works are worth checking out as well. 

Tiger Tiger by Petra Erika Nordlund is my favorite webcomic right now. And everything Otava Heikkilä makes is really cool.

The Geeks OUT Podcast: We’re Here & Justice League Queer

Geeks OUT Podcast: We’re Here & Justice League Queer

In this week’s episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin (@Gilligan_McJew) is joined by Rachel Greeman (@zaritarazi) as they discuss the possibility that we’ll actually see a Justice League Queer, the latest casting shakeup for Legends of Tomorrow, and celebrate our first look at the new Peacock series, We Are Lady Parts, for our Strong Female Characters of the Week.

In this week’s episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Rachel Greeman, as they discuss the possibility that we’ll actually see a Justice League Queer, the latest casting shakeup for Legends of Tomorrow, and celebrate our first look at the new Peacock series, We Are Lady Parts, for our Strong Female Characters of the Week.



KEVIN:  Colton Underwood, from The Bachelor, comes out and gets a Netflix deal
RACHEL: Dominic Purcell is leaving Legends of Tomorrow & First official look at live-action Powerpuff Girls



KEVIN: Supergirl, Batman
RACHEL: Falcon & the Winter Soldier, Batwoman, 6 of Crows



New teaser for We Are Lady Parts



DC’s Justice League Queer could still happen



New trailer for Fast and the Furious 9




• Will Smith moves his film Emancipation out of GA due to new voting law
• Ryan Coogler explains reasoning behind Black Panther 2 staying in GA
• New trailer for Army of the Dead
• New trailer for The Water Man



• New trailer for the final season of Shrill
• New trailer for season 2 of Mythic Quest
• New Steven Universe anti-racism short
• Cartoon Network relaunches Cartoon Cartoon program
• New teaser for Legendary season 2



• Marvel announces the winner of the X-Men vote



• KEVIN: Ghostmaker
• RACHEL: Sportsmaster & Tigress 

Interview with Ryan Crego, Michael J. Woodard, and Mary Lambert from Netflix’s “Arlo the Alligator Boy”

I had the pleasure of sitting down with the writer/director of the movie “Arlo the Alligator Boy” – Ryan Crego (Puss & Boots), and the two stars, Michael J. Woodard (American Idol) and Mary Lambert (singer) to ask them a few questions about this heartwarming animated musical, now out on Netflix. 

Kevin: I was very lucky to be able to catch a sneak peek of the movie, and there’s a lot of queer coding in the film, from the pink furball with a mustache, wearing heels and nails, addressed by she/her pronouns named Furlicia, voiced by Jonathan Van Ness. We also have the main character, Arlo, discovering his found family. and also the theme of learning to embrace our differences and focusing on what makes us special. Was that a concerted effort, or was the queer coding just a happy accident?

Ryan: I, you know, I guess in some aspects you don’t tell a story about, accepting yourself and accepting other people for who they are without thinking about that without thinking about, you know, the queer community, without thinking about the black community, all of the above. And so for me, you know, it’s something that I think I took seriously, knowing that the implications of what this story could mean, and if you get it wrong, what the damage that it could do, you know. And so, along the way, I made sure that, not only through the casting process and the design process, but my staffing process that I had voices around me that were diverse, that spoke to all of these characters. I think with Jonathan Van Ness, that was a character that could have gone a number of different ways. It really became about asking Jonathan if he would collaborate on that character, if he would step into a role of consulting and sort of developing that character with me, because I didn’t want that character to be, you know, Jonathan’s got such a powerful presence and he’s such a special person, he brings that to the table every day, every time he records. And so for me, it was like, I did not want to make that character, the butt of a joke, or to make, you know, I wanted that character to be funny, to be, for us, to all have fun with that character, but not to make fun of that character. So it was very important from the beginning. And that’s why, you know, we talked about pronouns, we talked about (the) outfit, we talked about, you know, Jonathan was actually the one who was like, “if it’s a fur ball and it’s going by she/her, sex it up. You know, we need more.” And I was like, okay, but it’s also a kids cartoon. (Everyone laughs) But we did, you know, to the degree that we could. And so, so yes, I mean, I was aware that would be part of the meaning of this film, of the thematic meaning of this film, and so, I had to think about it and consider it and partner with people who could give me insight and so we could do something that was meaningful and respectful.

Kevin: Mary and Michael, did either of you pull from personal experience while portraying these characters and what was that experience like?

Mary: Totally. I think, I mean, initially reading the script for Bertie, I was just so excited that there wasn’t a single fat joke about her. And I also loved that once I saw the visuals and started seeing the animation, that Arlo was sort of this epitome of imagination. And I think that’s what like happens in queer culture, is like the bounds of what is possible is limited by imagination. And I love that this storyline centers around chosen family and community. And for me, it was really cathartic playing somebody who was a big girl. And I thought about my younger self watching this and how healing that would have been and how much I craved representation for big girls when I was younger. I had, you know, Lindy West talks about this in “Shrill”, but she’s like, you have the Teapot from “Beauty and the Beast” you know, a matronly inanimate object, or Mrs. Trunchbull from “Matilda”, you have the villain. And so it’s exciting to be the hero, like Bertie is super strong and she protects Arlo and she’s vegan and she’s sensitive and can sing, and she is complex. And I think that’s so exciting and healing to be able to play that character.

Michael: I would say definitely I pulled from experience and things like that. And also just my natural personality. I think I didn’t have to stray far away from myself in order to really portray Arlo. I am very blessed and lucky to have that be a part of the character. And you will see moments where Arlo is conflicted in the movie, and that, yes, he’s happy and he’s optimistic, but he is human. And there are parts of his journey where he is pretty, disgruntled or just conflicted about life and where he should go, what he’s doing, and he’s confused. So just seeing those moments and me being in and having to portray those moments, there have been times in my life where I have felt that exact same way. Especially the high school period of my life. I think that was the time that I felt that way. Like what the freak am I doing? I’m young, I know where I want to be, but I’m not there yet. And it’s hard. So just pulling from those experiences, even to give life to those moments that Arlo was going through, was definitely a plus and helped me a lot to be able to portray those emotions.

Kevin: Why was it so important that this story be told as a musical and what role did the music play in the development of these characters?

Ryan: To answer the first part, I grew up playing music, I’ve been in bands my whole life, and been a songwriter for a long time. Not nearly as successful as the two (Michael and Mary) that I’m sitting here with, but that’s okay. (laughs) I love music, and I was always surrounded by it when I was young, and so it’s had an impact on me. When I got the chance to actually make my dream project, to do something that I thought would be like, this is me on a platter, it had to be musical. I didn’t anticipate actually writing all the music. I kind of had my friend, Alex Geringas pinned for that, and I was just gonna feed him the story and he was going to do it. But, he insisted when we got into our first couple of sessions that he wasn’t going to write without me. So, that was a big part of it, when I was writing the story, I was also writing the music at the same time.

Ryan: So we were kind of going back and forth between the script and really pushing. And then we found Michael and Mary, and the songs evolved even more because we knew who the voices were, what they were capable of and then started to write songs additionally, after the recording process. It was a pretty organic thing. I’d never made a musical before, I’ve worked in animated projects that have had musical elements, but I’ve never actually made a musical. So I kind of literally went onto Google and said like, how do you, how do you make a musical? (Mary & Michael laugh) And then watched everything I could and started studying, and listened to a ton of top 40 stuff. I really pushed myself into like a good two year cocoon of music, where I was just thinking about, what is this project going to be, how are we going to do this musically? And I’m super proud of the work we’ve done. I feel like the songs are touching, the voices of these two really reach out of the screen and just grab you in the heart and just make you feel for the characters. And I couldn’t ask for anything more, when watching a musical, to have that kind of emotional grip, and attachment to the songs. So, I’m pretty proud of what we’ve done.

Kevin: And I really enjoyed watching it and I enjoyed both of your characters (Arlo & Bertie) and just the love that’s there. And I’m really excited for other people to experience it and also for us to see their adventures continue, in the series “I ❤️ Arlo”.


“Arlo the Alligator Boy” is now out on Netflix.


Check out the full audio below:

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

The Geeks OUT Podcast: Loki What We Have Here

The Geeks OUT Podcast

Opinions, reviews, incisive discussions of queer geek ideas in pop culture, and the particularly cutting brand of shade that you can only get from a couple of queer geeks all in highly digestible weekly doses.

In this week’s episode of the Geeks OUT Podcast, Kevin is joined by Sammie James, as they discuss the new trailers for Loki, Cruella, Pose, & Star Trek: Discovery and celebrate all the winners for the GLAAD Media Awards in This Week in Queer.



KEVIN:  Regé-Jean Page responds to racist reasons he wasn’t cast on Krypton
SAMMIE: New trailer for the final season of Pose



KEVIN: Thunder Force, What Lies Below, Them
SAMMIE: Creepshow, Wynonna Earp, What Big Teeth



New Cruella trailer



Winners announced for the GLAAD Media Awards



New teaser for Star Trek: Discovery




• New trailer for animated Batman: The Long Halloween
• Taika Waititi releases new animal rights short film Save Ralph
• New teaser for Ghostbusters: Afterlife
• New Stephen King Rules Dollar Baby Film Festival announced
• New trailer for The Night House
• New trailer for Things Heard & Seen
• New trailer for The Woman in the Window
• Paramount announces a new Star Trek movie coming in 2023



• New trailer for Jupiter’s Legacy
• Fox gives Duncanville and early season 3 renewal
• New trailer for Girls5eva
• Peacock orders a reboot of Queer as Folk
• Teaser for Star Trek: Picard teases the return of Q
• New trailer for Star Trek: Lower Decks
• New trailer for Loki
• HBO Max orders a Magic Mike competition series



• Intel introduces the possibility to monitor/censor hate speech at GDC
• Lil Nas X introduces new Twerk Hero game



• KEVIN: Brainy
• SAMMIE: Dreamer 

Interview with Author Liselle Sambury

Liselle Sambury is a Toronto-based Trinidadian Canadian author. Her brand of writing can be described as “messy Black girls in fantasy situations.” She works in social media and spends her free time embroiled in reality tv because when you write messy characters you tend to enjoy that sort of drama. She also shares helpful tips for upcoming writers and details of her publishing journey through a YouTube channel dedicated to helping demystify the sometimes complicated business of being an author. I had the chance to interview Liselle, which you can read below.

Congratulations on your debut! Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming book, Blood Like Magic?

Blood Like Magic is about a family of Black witches living in a near future Toronto, and in particular, sixteen-year-old Voya Thomas who is given the horrifying task of either killing her first love or losing her family’s magic forever.

What drew you to writing? Do you remember the first stories/authors that inspired you to write or simply strengthen your love of reading?

There wasn’t anything specific that drew me to writing, I just wanted a way to vent my feelings and tell stories that distracted me when I was having a hard time, and writing ended up being that medium. I honestly didn’t even read much. I volunteered in the library in elementary school because I wanted to be indoors during recess. I was that kind of kid. But I did love to go to the public library, and I would basically pick out anything that interested me. I was a big fan of the Saga of Darren Shan which was a gruesome vampire series. I devoured those books so it’s not surprising that I hopped right on the Twilight train when it came around. 

As a writer, where do you find your sense of inspiration and what sources do you draw on to refresh your creativity?

I find that books, TV shows, and movies are fantastic fuel for my inspiration. Books so often make me think ‘wow I wish I could write something like this’ and spur me on that way because I’m so invested in trying to create an experience like that, or, like in the case of Blood Like Magic, trying to add to an experience I didn’t get when I was younger. With TV Shows and movies though, it’s often that there’s an aspect unexplored that nags at me, and I have to write that unexplored premise. Anime is usually where I discover a lot of different ways of telling a story that I’ve never seen or heard of. Some anime just blows my mind with the sorts of narratives they weave, and that’s also incredibly inspiring.

Your debut book is said to feature a magic system with strong New Orleans roots. Could you tell us something about that?

The magic in the book doesn’t draw from anything existing in New Orleans purposely because I truly don’t know enough about those cultures and that history. Those practices that have real ties and significance in that region, and I don’t know enough to write it into my work. However, I was familiar with some of the historical events during the period of slavery that happened in New Orleans when it was the U.S. Territory of Orleans. The particular event that stuck out was the revolt that occurred nearby, led by slaves in sugar plantations. With the combination of the history within slavery and of African folk magic in that area, it just felt like the right place for the Thomas witches have ancestors from.

I actually tried to dig into my ancestral history to see if I could pinpoint where my ancestors were from when they were slaves in the U.S. to use that location, but due to the nature of colonialism and records, I unfortunately wasn’t able to find anything.

Your protagonist, Voya Thomas, comes from a Trinidadian-Canadian background like yourself, correct? Was it always your intention to have this aspect mirrored in your fiction, and what are your thoughts on Caribbean representation in the YA world today?

I had always intended to write Voya as Trinidadian-Canadian because I really wanted to put that experience into a story. Prior to Blood Like Magic, I hadn’t explored that in my fiction and thought it would be fun to show that experience. I was truly putting a lot of myself into the story and that’s such a huge part of me.

I think we’re starting to see more Caribbean rep in YA now which is really exciting like Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart and Where The Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass, which are both coming out this year. I haven’t read a lot of stories with Caribbean rep in YA so I’m really happy to add my voice. Especially within a Canadian context because I find that to be less common in YA as well.

Since Geeks OUT is a queer centered website, could you tell us a bit about the LGBTQ+ characters that will be featured in your book, including the main character’s love interest who is a trans man?

Of course! Luc, the love interest is trans man and he’s my snarky genius. Voya’s cousin Alex is a trans woman, and she’s the fashionista of the family with a talent for sewing and design. Voya’s other cousin Keisha is lesbian and demiromantic, does modelling part-time, and never holds back her opinion. Johan is the head of a family with close ties to the Thomases and he’s gay. One of his sons, Topaz, is also gay, but it’s not explicitly said until the second book.

Aside from witches, are there other magical/mythological/ spiritual backgrounds you are drawn to?

I am a big fan of ghosts which is hilarious because I’m actually really fearful of death and have no desire to ever experience a ghost sighting. But I think there’s something super intriguing about the idea of unfinished businesses and the world beyond death that can be explored in really interesting ways. I loved Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour because she took the idea of ghosts and created a completely unexpected story that was so beautiful.

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet and wish you were asked (and your answer to that question)?

I don’t actually think that I’ve asked who the easiest and hardest character to write were, but I love that question. I have found that Voya is the hardest for me to write because I frequently struggle with getting her motivation as a character just perfect, and it’s hard to make a character who has difficulty with decisions active in the narrative. I’m so dedicated to telling her story right that I tend to spend a lot of extra time with her. On the flip side, I find her cousin Keisha the easiest and the most fun to write. I have no idea why. I think she just asserted herself as a character with a really strong voice and so it just flows. I absolutely love her.

Are there any other projects or story ideas you are currently nursing and could tell us about?

Right now, I’m working on my first novel-length adult project which is currently uncontracted. It’s going to be a horror, but no ghosts this time. It’ll edge on thriller and include discussions about toxic workplace environments and culture.

What advice would you give for writers who are exploring their own creativity and looking to step up their game?

I would highly recommend reading and writing craft books. That’s something that I do a lot even now and there’s so much you can learn from them. And I would say to read a variety because you may find some you agree with that work for you and some you don’t. They also often have exercises that you can do to experiment with your writing and find what works best for you. I just find that guidance to be so helpful. 

Finally, what are some LGBTQ+ stories you would recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

I would definitely recommend Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas which is about a trans brujo who accidentally summons a ghost who won’t leave. A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth about four queer fae teens solving a murder mystery (also set in Toronto!). Sweet and Bitter Magic by Adrienne Tooley which is a fantasy about a girl cursed to live without love and a girl trying to save her father who makes a bargain. And finally, Surrender Your Sons by Adam Sass which is about teens escaping from a conversion camp and has such an amazing use of atmosphere and dread.